The Amy and Tony Polak
2009 Distinguished Advocate Award

  George StevensGeorge Stevens, Jr. is a Hollywood filmmaker and an influential figure in the performing arts. Over the course of his career, Stevens has won 11 Emmys, two Peabody Awards and eight awards from the Writers Guild of America for his television productions. In his 20s, Stevens worked as a production assistant to his father, the director George Stevens, on A Place in the Sun, Shane, Giant, The Diary of Anne Frank and The Greatest Story Ever Told. During the 1960s, Stevens produced more than 300 documentaries annually for the United States Information Agency under Edward R. Murrow, including the agency’s first feature-length film, John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums. In 1978, Stevens designed and launched the Kennedy Center Honors, a national recognition of America’s leaders in the performing arts. In 1985, the film biography of his father, George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey, premiered at the Deauville Festival and subsequently was released to theaters across the United States. His 1990 four-hour miniseries, Separate But Equal, starred Sidney Poitier as Thurgood Marshall. Stevens’ screenplay and direction on Separate But Equal earned him two Emmys and numerous other awards. The Writers Guild of America gave Stevens its Paul Selvin Award for writing that embodies civil rights and liberties. In addition, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund honored Stevens’ “commitment to making films that raise social consciousness and examine human values.” Separate But Equal told the story of Brown vs. Board of Education, the case that led to the Supreme Court decision to outlaw segregated schools. It was this experience that introduced Stevens to the life of Thurgood Marshall and led him to later write the play Thurgood, which opened on April 30, 2008 at the historic Booth Theater on Broadway. Stevens’ 1994 documentary, George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin, told the story of his father’s wartime experiences in Europe. Stevens won two Emmys for the film. In 1998, Stevens served as executive producer on Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 2000, Stevens co-produced along with Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones America’s Millennium, commissioned by President Bill Clinton and the First Lady. He is the author of Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age (Knopf).